In early September of 2014, famous YouTube star Sam Pepper posted an alleged “prank video” on his channel of 2.4 million subscribers. The video featured Pepper grabbing the behinds of seemingly random and unsuspecting women on the streets of Los Angeles. The video was met with immediate outrage. Viewers claimed that Pepper’s actions were considered acts of sexual harassment and that it violated YouTube’s policy on sexual content. Within hours of the video being posted, “#reportsampepper” became a worldwide trend on Twitter.
The video was soon removed from YouTube. A little while after the first video, Pepper then posted another video of the same concept. However, in this video a female was displayed grabbing the behinds of various males. There was an even bigger uproar over this video, especially after Pepper was conscious of the previous video’s backlash. People responded with comments such as, “…good to know he’s an equal opportunity creep”.
Pepper explained that he was using this as a social experiment. He wanted to see people’s reactions to sexual harassment towards women versus sexual harassment towards men. Pepper claimed that the video’s intention was to shed light on the fact that sexual assault happens equally to both men and women.
Soon after, Pepper posted a video that displayed him receiving permission from each girl in the video, before he initiated the prank. The British internet celebrity ensured his viewers that they were overreacting and that the entire video was staged. He was only trying to make a point.
Despite this, Pepper is currently banned from VidCon, an online video convention and various other conventions as well. Viewers are also cutting off their association with Pepper, confirming that they are no longer affiliated with him and his channel.
After the video’s negative response, Pepper’s real life issues began to catch up to him. According to website such as BuzzFeed and Gawker, there have been various rape accusations being put forth towards Pepper, by the YouTube community. Many girls are claiming that he lured them into his apartment and raped them. But now after this recent uproar over Pepper’s video, these rape victims became inspired to speak out about their incidents with Pepper.
Although Pepper states that he created the video to prove that people react more to women being assaulted than they do to men being assaulted, he did not exactly get the results to prove that. BSGE students had varying opinions on the matter.
BSGE Freshman Nicole S. 18′ commented, “If he had told the girls what he was going to do before he did it I think that it was a fair thing to do and the video should not have been removed.” Nicole is one of the many people who found the prank childishly innocent, a popular response. She added, “I actually found the girls’ reactions quite funny and even though it was a horrible concept, it was pretty funny!”
However, other BSGE students disagreed. “I think that what he did was a crime to women,” another Freshman, Gabi P 18′ proclaimed. Gabi explained, “Although people may think that it is funny, it really promotes this kind of behavior. On the internet it looks like a joke, but when it actually happens it hurts the victim.”
The latest update of the Sam Pepper scandal was on October 3rd, 2014 when he posted a statement on his Twitter account. It stated that Pepper has not been arrested or contacted by any law enforcement agency, and that he denies all accusations against him. Still the scandal continues, raising awareness to the issue of sexual assault across the world.